comedy

Amelie * Jean-Pierre Jeunet * 2001

“Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain” is one of these ‘alternative’ films that reached a large audience. It used to play in filmhouses, but it seems that everyone has seen it. It is a comedy, so there was no priority for me to see it, “maybe when it is on tv”. But, my girlfriend wanted to see it, and when entering a ‘normal’ videostore there were six copies of it on dvd and several on video!

But to the film. “Amelie” opens with a brilliant and hilaric scene with strange events and a funny voice-over, a bit like “Magnolia”. It quickly tells about the main-characters in the film, their likes and not-like and the opening is the absolute highlight of the film, in one word: brilliant.
But no worries, the rest is also very enjoyable. Amelie (Audrey Tautuo) is a beautiful young woman who has been a bit neglected in her youth. This led to her living almost completely solitary and in and our her fantasy-world. She tries to help people using peculiar methods, while other people she drives insane with bizare jokes. Then when the times comes that she can help herself to her first love, she keeps playing the jokes she does with other people. In the end all comes well.

“Amelie” is not just a comedy, but more a drama with funny touches. Not always to laugh, but often it is. A very witty script, great story, good acting and you will hardly notice that it lasts over two hours.

This is the film that you want to see when you are in the mood for a comedy, but not one a the cheap kind.

Almost Famous * Cameron Crowe * 2000

Often compared to “Boogie Nights” (of which I have no review?!) this film. It also plays in the seventies, is a weird combination of comedy and drama and with young actors. Russell is a 15-year old intellectual who gets gripped by Rock ‘n’ Roll music that is already on its return. Following the fictious band “Stillwater” the boy first writes for the magazine “Cream” and later for the “Rolling Stone”. The film shows how Russell gets tempted by the life of a rockstar, their groupies and of course journalists. Amusing.

Allerzielen * various directors * 2005

“Allerzielen” is a compilation of 16 short films that were made after (and because of) the murder of Theo van Gogh (23/7/1957-2/11/2004). Mostly young and new directors made a variety of short films. They are either about the killing, the reactions to it or more artistic films such as dance-films. The films go from hilaric to serious and artsy. Some are very clear, other say more about yourself. Some show something which would haven’t been shown before the killing like a Dutch mother talking to her daughter while a Maroccan (I think) woman is talking to her daughter, or a hilaric film about a Turkish man and his Maroccan neighbour accross the street. Some films are very critcial and clear, other vague and suggestive. Funny is that this film had its premiere in 12 cinema’s and on tv on the same night. A week later it was only shown in 2 cinema’s and now only in one. I suppose it will be on DVD soon. “Allerzielen” is both interesting from ‘filmographic’ point of view, but also of course in the course of events. Personally I found it a bit too long/strange/experimental to view all at once.

Alice In Wonderland * Nick Willing * 1999

I remember that as a child I saw some Alice In Wonderland animation a few times. My girlfriend bought this cheap DVD also expecting this animation, but it turned out to be a ‘real’ film. Not really my genre, childrens/family films, but actually this version of the famous tale is very entertaining. An impressive cast with Woopy Goldberg (magnificent as the smiling Cheshire Cat), Ben Kingsley (Major Caterpillar), Christopher Lloyd (Carpenter), Peter Ustinov (Walrus) and Miranda Richardson with a briliant part as Queen of Hearts which is like her part as the queen in Blackadder but even more over the top. I don’t suppose I have to say anything about the story, so I will just say that this film version has a nice absurd atmosphere, great stages, costumes and computer animations and great acting. So if you (or your children) want to see an Alice In Wonderland, I would say that this is a good option.

À la folie… pas du tout * Laetitia Colombani * 2002

This is the second film of the French director of 1976. “Selling point” is the main part played by Audrey Tautou who we all loved playing Amélie Poulin. This film is said to be a “romantic thriller”. Well, it sure isn’t a comedy like Amélie, but a thriller? Oh well, maybe a bit. Angelique is in love with a cardiologist and fantasises a relationship with him. She does her best to win his heart, but this isn’t easy. In the first half of the film you get Angeliques story, in the second half the same story is told, but this time from the eyes of the cardiologist and you get a completely different story. Very enjoyable.

Adaptation * Spike Jonze * 2002

A film from almost exactly the same crew as “Being John Malkovich” (BJM), which says a lot, doesn’t it? But, if you haven’t seen BJM, I suggest you see it before you do this one. There is one big difference between the two films. Whereas you best know as little as possible about BJM before you see it, with “Adaptation” it is very helpfull to have some background information. The ingenious script for BJM film has been written by Charlie Kaufman. He wasn’t the first choice for, but for this very reason he was asked for a strange Holywood project. There happened to be a book about orchids written by Susan Orlean. However it isn’t exactly an easy popularly-written book, it was a bestseller in the USA and as it goes with bestsellers, the rights to make a film of it were bought by some bobo. Several scenerists have clutched their brains over the question how to make a film about orchids that people would go and see. Nobody succeeded, so Charlie Kaufman got the job. He pondered and thought but couldn’t come up with anything, so in the end he decided to write a script about him trying to write a script for a movey. Instead of looking in Malkovich’s head you get a peek into Kaufman’s own head. The film is partly ‘biographical’/true, partly not. Nicholas Cage for example plays both Charlie Kaufman and his twin brother Donald, but Kaufman doesn’t have a brother in reality. Susan Orlean is played by Meryl Streep who falls in love with the orchid-hunter John Laroche (Chris Cooper), but if I understand correctly, this is added to make the story a bit more interesting. Just as the thrillerish end by the way. Further you can see some of the filming of BJM in the film with Malkovich and some of the actors (including Spike Jonze himself). The title of the film refers to the evolution-theory of Charles Darwin (plants adapt to their new environment in this case) and the adaptation of the book that had to be filmed.
And the result? Well, “Adaptation” is a nice film, but definately no “Being John Malkovich”.
At the same time in the cinemas is another story of Charlie Kaufman being “Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind” (first film directed by George Clooney!) which I hope to see some time soon too. <3>

The 51st State * Ronny Yu * 2001

Well another action/crime/comedy in the vein of “Snatch”, “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, “Traffic” or “Pulp Fiction”. This time by a Tai director who previously made Tai karate action films.

“The 51st State” is about the American chemist and drug producer Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson) who made the perfect new drug and he wants to sell his formula for a high price to be able to get out of the business. In the USA he literally blows the deal with the corrupt police agent The Lizard (Meat Loaf) and he seeks his salvation in Liverpool, England. There McElroy is picked up by the supercool Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle) and his driver. Being chased by DeSouzas ex-girlfriend Dakota (Emily Mortimer) also this deal gets blown and McElroy has to go find a new buyer together with DeSouza.

The film starts with a totally hip combination of fast images and heavy music. There are also more ‘tranquil’ parts in the film and all through there is a cynical kind of humour combining both British (anti-American) and American (anti-British) jokes. A lot of ‘bad language’ is used to make things totally hilarious. Some pretty good jokes, unexpected changes in the story (not too unexpected though) and quite a lot of action make this film pretty nice. Here and there a bit unbelievable and overall not brilliant, but good entertainment.

24 Hour Party People * Michael Winterbottom * 2002

I had wanted to see this film for a long time, but when I read in the anouncement of the TV-broadcasting that the Sex Pistols are part of the story, I wondered why I never watched this film before. Not that I am a big Sex Pistol fan, but I like films about the 70’s (music) scene, such as “Boogie Nights” or “Almost Famous”. “24 Hour Party People” is even more ‘educational’ than I expected. After the first concert of the Sex Pistols Tony Wilson decided that he wanted to form a plane for independant music. First he gets a show about punk music on a regional TV channel, later he opens the club “The Factory” to organise shows and after that he founds “Factory Records”. There isn’t too much punk in this film, because soon Wilson discovers the genre ‘postpunk’ (later ‘(new) wave’ or ‘gothic’). Quite a large part of the film is dedicated to Joy Division, the controversy about their name and the suicide of the lead singer. In their early days, there wasn’t much of ‘a gothic look’, but later there was. Obviously the genre developed into a scene. After the suicide of Ian Curtis, the band continues under the name New Order.
Wilson doesn’t just sign wave bands though, because he also discovers the Happy Mondays and some avantgardistic bands that I don’t even know. The greatest thing to see is what happens around the person a Wilson, a music lover not interested in genres. He releases punk, wave, indie/avantgarde, funk and eventually he opens a club where ‘the rave scene’ was born, the earliest signs of life of house music, where the attention didn’t go to the creators of the music, but to the medium, the DJ. Touched upon are the problems with drugs, gangs and the like.

I don’t know how historical the story is, but I read somewhere on the internet that the story is very one-sided and focussed too much on the person of Wilson. I suppose that is true, but still the film gives a wonderfull view on the happenings of the Manchester scene of that time.Personally I was delighted to see how different kinds of music and scenes run through and follow up eachother.

Also the film itself is very well done. Most of the time you get the idea that you are ‘part of’ the time the film is about, but the main character frequently makes it clear that the film was shot recently, by saying what will happen in the film, who plays what character, giving comments on what happens, etc. The humour is British and extremely dry, I like that! The film is educational in a way, enjoyable and a great watch. Now I need to see “Velvet Goldmine” (1998) some time soon too!

8 Femmes * François Ozon * 2002

I have been told several times to see this film, but it took a long time before I did. Not really my kind of film though, comedy. Furthermore, it is half a musical! Eight women are in one house and the only man is dead. Then you get a whole film in which the women try to find out who of them could have done it. A few nice jokes, funny characters, but overall not too great.

Bridget Jones’s Diary * Sharon Maguire * 2001

As we all know books, tv-series and movies about single women in their 30’ies are very popular nowadays. Once in a while I can enjoy an episode of “Sex and the City” and I may have watched this movie when it came on tv, but now I already saw in when I flew to the USA a few weeks back.
Not really a ‘plane movie’, because you actually have to listen carefully to what Bridget is telling which is pretty hard with the roar of plane-engines, passing flight-attendants and fellow-passangers.
All in all I found the movie pretty amusing, but I guess I will have to see it again once it is shown on tv.